When Kriti Bhagat, OD, FAAO, was working in an ophthalmology practice, although she appreciated the experience, she did not have the opportunity to grow the contact lens portion of the business the way she would have liked. That realization spurred her search for a practice to buy or start. With her focus on contact lenses, specialty contacts and myopia management, she felt she could be successful with a contact lens-focused practice.
In October 2022, she opened the doors to Eyediology Vision in Providence, Rhode Island. Getting there took a bit of time, she says. First, she looked at several practices that were for sale or where she might join as a partner with a buy-in clause. “But there were too many aspects to work around, such as potential conflicts if I wanted to change things and the selling doctor being reluctant about change. So I decided it would be better to open a practice where I can implement my ideas from the very start,” she says.
She had a geographic target – a historic part of town where people stopped by each other’s businesses and said hello. “I worked in a practice once where the parking attendant from across the street came in during his lunch hour some days to sit and the read the paper. It was a community feel,” she says, and she wanted to replicate that in her practice. But there were no storefronts available in the area. However, she found a space inside a medical office building one block away, near a Whole Foods grocery, where dog-walkers, stroller-pushers and others would see her.
In the few weeks that she’s been open, Dr. Bhagat says that word has been spreading. Because she signed herself up for vision benefit plans, she’s getting the traffic. “People want to use their vision benefits, and when they’re in here, I have the opportunity to talk with them about their contact lens interests while I’m doing the comprehensive eye exam.”
What she expected – and what she is finding – is that most contact lens patients do not know that there might be different options for them. “I’ll ask what kind of contact lenses they’re wearing and if they’re happy. Most say, ‘Well, I guess so, but these are the only ones I’ve ever tried.’” Dr. Bhagat says that she gets excited telling patients about advances in contact lens designs, materials and wearing schedules. “So many of them have been wearing the same brand of lenses for most of the past 10 years year. I love giving the opportunity to see if there is a lens that provides them an outstanding experience,” she says.
When she does have them try a different lens, the reaction is often one of surprise. “Alcon lens designers focused on creating an outstanding contact lens wearing experience with exceptional comfort.
That’s important because while she is willing to spend time with patients meeting their eye care needs, spending that time in I&R training is not anyone’s idea of fun. “I want to select contact lenses where I know the technician can have a fast and productive I&R session, that helps the office flow. The PRECISION1 lens has been that lens for me.”
To make the process even more comfortable, her I&R area is “in a separate private oasis. I want kids or anyone else who is nervous to have their own space where there’s no pressure to learn in front of other patients or optical staff,” she says.
Another Alcon service that she has incorporated fully is MARLO, a digital eye care platform that supports contact lens ordering. “I have a staff of one, so I wanted an easy, seamless system to simplify contact lens orders. The training with MARLO was literally one hour, and it’s so easy to get trial lenses for the office and patient supplies directly to them. For a new practice, I love these services that make the process go more smoothly.”
Dr. Bhagat says it’s a joy her for her to walk into her office. “I went for a modern industrial feel. I grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts – Mill City. So I love that look and incorporated lots of natural wood and live plants. I’m also a little obsessed with coffee and reading, so there’s a wonderful coffee station and great literature to read. It gives us something to talk about when the patient says they read something.” Find her on her Instagram @brew.reading to find some coffee and book pairings.
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